California Is Shivering

Snow is draping California's historic Donner Pass. Even more of the white stuff pelting the mountains near Los Angeles, reports CBS News Correspondent Jerry Bowen.

"Last week, I was out on my boat, working on my suntan," said a police officer who was battling the snow.

Miserable, winter-like weather has San Francisco tourists fighting wind and rain and Los Angeles residents dancing through the drizzle of the third wettest June on record. And its only June 4.

"I have a cold and a sore throat. I can't even speak right now because of the weather," said one California resident.

Throw in marble-sized hail in the vast Central Valley, where even rain is rare this time of year, and climatologists have a real mystery in the radar.

"Very unusual for this time of year, if ever, in our history in California," said Kelly Redmond of the U.S. Western Regional Climate Center.

The quick explanation is La Nina, El Nino's cold water cousin that has dropped Pacific Ocean temperatures four degrees below normal off the California coast.

But a comparison with last spring's El Nino-influenced conditions shows the weather then and now is almost identical, leaving the weather experts divided.

"In some cases, La Nina and El Nino can produce similar weather conditions over certain portions of the country," said Andrew Horvitz of the National Weather Service.

"El Nino and La Nina have been very convenient scapegoats for a number of weather events that have been observed over the past year or so, but there are other things going on, so there's still a lot more mystery to be resolved," said meteorologist Redmond.

And the summer forecast? Warmer than normal in the South and Southwest. Cooler than usual in the Midwest. And normal precipitation everywhere except the Northeast, where it will be wetter than normal.

And for the really long-term forecast, we have this information in from researchers in Antarctica. Climate data that suggests global warming may be a blip on the radar.

Analysis of ice cores samples obtained by Russian researchers indicates earth may already be headed into another ice age. But there's still time for the summer vacation. It will likely be tens of thousands of years before anyone notices a real difference.

©1999 CBS Worldwide Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed


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